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Putin Critic Navalny Steps Up Corruption Charges in Mayoral Race

Alexey Navalny, a leading opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin who was sentenced to prison last month and is running for Moscow mayor, alleged a daughter of the current city chief owns a $3.5 million apartment.

The 205-square-meter (2,200-square-foot) apartment in St. Petersburg was acquired by 26-year-old Anna Sobyanina in 2011, Navalny said today in a posting on his blog. She lives in St. Petersburg with her husband and the apartment has nothing to do with her father, Gulnara Penkova, a spokeswoman for Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, said by text message.

Navalny, 37, said last week that a second daughter of Sobyanin born in 1997 owns a 308-square-meter apartment in Moscow valued at more than $5 million. Sobyanin said yesterday that the property in the Russian capital held by his daughter Olga was declared openly seven years ago.

Navalny, a lawyer and anti-corruption activist who helped organize the biggest protests against Putin’s 13-year rule in 2011 and last year, vowed to contest the next presidential election in 2018 and put Putin and his billionaire allies in jail if he won. His conviction for embezzlement, if upheld, would preclude him from ever holding public office.

The Prosecutor General’s Office said yesterday that it had uncovered illegal foreign financing for Navalny’s campaign for Moscow mayor in the Sept. 8 ballot. Navalny condemned what he termed pressure on his campaign, denying getting foreign funds.

Navalny is the highest-rated challenger to the incumbent mayor, with 9 percent backing to Sobyanin’s 54 percent, according to an opinion poll published July 23 by the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion, or VTsIOM.

On July 18, Navalny received a five-year prison sentence for embezzling cash from a state timber company. He was later released for the duration of his appeals process after thousands of backers protested his conviction in central Moscow and other major cities.

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